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  • Writer's pictureKyoto Localized

Kyoto Nightlife: 5 Best Experiences in Kyoto at Night

[Gion at night | Image Courtesy of David Offf / Flickr]

Kyoto at night is a whole new different experience from what you typically see in broad daylight. Though this old city is popular for its temples and shrines, you still have a lot of reasons to explore Kyoto after dark.

If you are looking to experience Kyoto nightlife, we’ve got some cool recommendations for you. In fact, these are the most worthwhile things to do in Kyoto at night.

1. Gion

Starting off with Gion — the entertainment district of Kyoto where geishas (professional female performers) and their apprentices (called “maiko”) abound. Gion is home to many ochaya (“traditional teahouse”) and ryotei (“luxurious traditional restaurant”). But you can also find a range of regular restaurants, bars and clubs, karaoke, and souvenir shops. Enjoy Kyoto at night — party at Maharaja Gion, watch traditional art show at Gion Corner, or eat traditional Japanese cuisine at Ichiriki-tei. But if you just want to do geisha-sighting around Gion, you can join Kyoto Localized’s free night walking tour. Book your spot here.

2. Miyagawacho

[Miyagawacho | Image Courtesy of CLF / Flickr]

Just southwest of Gion is an entertainment zone called Miyagawacho, an alley that’s as big as Gion and located in Hanamachi district where you can still feel the old Kyoto vibes. Miyagawacho (“Shrine River”) is home to a number of traditional teahouses, shrines and temples, a kabuki theater, bars, and restaurants. Don’t be too restricted; explore the area, and you will get some unforgettable Kyoto nightlife experience.

3. Nishiki Market

[Nishiki Market | Image Courtesy of David Stanley / Flickr]

Looking to satisfy the foodie in you? Nishiki Market is the perfect place to visit. It’s called “Kyoto’s Kitchen” after all. Nishiki is not just about cooking utensils and souvenir goods. You can find so many street food stalls selling fresh foods for tourists ready to dig in. From traditional sweets to newly caught seafood, you can find them all here. Some must-try foods at Nishiki Market are tako tamago, takoyaki, tamagoyaki, and fugu.

4. Pontocho

[Pontocho | Image Courtesy of Fred / Flickr]

Another popular place in Kyoto to spot geisha and maiko is Pontocho, a narrow alley located west of Kamo River. Like Gion, Pontocho Alley is also known as an entertainment haven packed with traditional geisha homes, traditional teahouses, bars, and restaurants. Pontocho is best visited at night, where bars and restaurants and clubs come alive. The side of Pontocho that faces the river is also a great place to dine, drink, and relax in the summer. Some bars you might want to visit are Club Ibiza, Atlantis, World, and Cafe Rumbita.

5. Kiyamachi

[Kiyamachi Stree | Image Courtesy of Hiro Kokoro Photos / Flickr]

One of the best Kyoto nightlife experiences you will ever embark on is right along Kiyamachi Street — a 1-km long strip of hole-in-the-wall restaurants, bars, and clubs offering affordable food and drinks. Just one block away from Pontocho, Kiyamachi is a bit of a contrast. The street is foreign-friendly as some of these establishments have English menus, signages, and staff. Some clubs and bars to visits are Club Butterfly, Ki Bar, and Backgammon.


Kyoto is the heart of Japan and has a rich history and culture. Our walking tours will show you why. On our Walking Tours, you will learn about the Old and New Kyoto, tradition, religion, history, food, and culture. Free Walking Tours in Kyoto | Kyoto Walking Tours. Book your free walking tour of Kyoto today.


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